Forgiveness is one of the most important and powerful tool in healing. It can help restore relationships – with others, with yourself, with God – and help make peace with past hurts and situations. Therefore this is why I picked this as the very first topic, for it is simple to write about and yet it can have great impact on our healing journey. For some, this might heal you completely? For some, it may be a stepping stone as part of your healing journey. In my case, it’s one of the many stones toward my healing journey and I wanted to say this so you can have hope! For I had so many many issues (mentally and emotionally), and God wanted to use me as an example so you can be inspired by how God truly cares and wants to have us healed. To be able to live and thrive in Christ!
I realize it is much easier said than done! I know it can be hard to forgive certain situations and people. It might take some time for some folks. Pray and allow God to help guide you in regards to forgiveness in your life.
So what’s my story?
Back in high school, when my brother’s mental illness started to emerge and caused him act out toward the family – I got beaten up and received constant verbal abuse which pushed me away from him. I felt traumatized and unloved by this. I struggled with this pain for long time. I was really angry at him for so long. Also not understanding him or his situation made the problem worse, leaving both of us not having a good relationship for a very long time. What I hadn’t realized at the time was that he still loved me deep, even with him acting out at times.
All these years, I was so blind with unforgiveness and anger that I overlooked his multiple attempts to reconcile and rebuild relationship with me. He wanted to have a good relationship with me. We still did see each other once in a while and for most part it was cordial. But… it wasn’t enough and also my heart wasn’t truly in these visits. God knows what’s in our hearts – we may do something nice, but what’s in our heart is what really matters. Looking back on it, it’s not something I’m proud of – for that was hurtful to him.
One day, God put it on my heart to reconnect with my brother in a more meaningful way and spend quality time with him. Not just at Christmas and birthdays and once in a while but more so on regular basis. I felt that God was showing me that he was alone and suffering terribly with his own mental illness. I started to feel compassion for him and wanted him to be taken care of. Then a fellow brother in Christ confirmed what I felt in my heart, explaining what God showed him in the spirit. It was powerful experience!
At first it was quite challenging because of my own heart toward him, struggling to overthrow bitterness and anger, as well as learning how to interact with him and not wanting to jeopardize the relationship again. I saw how God changed my heart over time, allowing Him to do a deep work in me. As I spent more time with my brother, I saw my unforgiveness and anger melting away. It gradually dawned on me how much he was suffering, which shifted the focus away from my own past hurts toward compassion for my brother. It healed a major traumatic wound from the past.
Facing the magnitude of what I had done to my brother, seeing how much of a jerk I was and how I ignored him for so long, leaving him feeling lonely and neglected by his brother. I struggled hard with unforgiveness toward myself and struggled to come terms with my own action. Instead of condemning myself as the enemy wants me to, God helped shift my focus on what He has done for us on the cross. Jesus already paid the price for our sin, our fallen wretched nature – forgiving us completely. God knows exactly what we have done and yet still forgave us! Therefore we forgive others, including ourselves. It is not our own righteousness that we are justified before God, but Christ’s righteousness that justifies us before God as we trust and believe in Christ.
When we are able to forgive and move on, it’s like a new fresh start! Old past is gone, and there’s a whole new future to explore together! Same with God, our old former self is garbage, full of sinful capacity, but when we become born-again in God – we have the opportunity to WALK in the new creation, putting aside the former self and former way of living. And WALKING IN THE NEWNESS OF LIFE IN CHRIST!
God also helped me understand who I am in Christ – that I am a new creation in Christ and no longer the old person I was. Each of us always have new opportunities to do things differently, to grow more in Christ. This time I chose to focus on rebuilding a better relationship with my brother. Praise God! Understanding the vast mercy and grace God has given us helps us appreciates the magnitude of His forgiveness and sacrifice and love Jesus have richly provided for us. When we truly realize this in a deeper sense then I believe it makes it a lot easier to forgive others.
Now, I am just truly grateful to have him in my life and I am learning to be forgiving when he acts out or does something that makes me angry. Then I forgive hard! Just keep practicing forgiveness! I feel in my heart that God is happy that our relationship is restored, for He truly desires for us to love one another and live in harmony. It is not His will that we hate one another. I am still continuing this journey in new relationship with my brother, and I feel blessed! I know it’s not perfect and he still challenges me in many different ways yet (and vice versa!) but there’s always opportunity to keep on growing and opportunities to keep on forgiving and moving on.
Challenges in life doesn’t have to be a bad thing when God plans it for our own benefit to help us grow in kingdom character! We just gotta let Him do a good work in us, even though it may seem painful at times. Just look at me – God used my brother to change my attitude and heart toward him. And also for me to be a blessing to my brother in his life!
Matthew 6:12 (ESV)
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV)
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Colossians 3:12-14 (ESV)
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
“Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too.”
― Will Smith
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
― Nelson Mandela
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”
― Nelson Mandela
“I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.”
― Abraham Lincoln
Many times, the decisions we make affect and hurt your closest friends and family the most. I have a lot of regrets in that regard. But God has forgiven me, which I am very thankful for. It has enabled me to forgive myself and move forward one day at a time.
– Lex Luger
The most important thing that I learned in growing up is that forgiveness is something that, when you do it, you free yourself to move on.
– Tyler Perry
“I think the hardest thing in life is to forgive. Hate is self destructive. If you hate somebody, you’re not hurting the person you hate, you’re hurting yourself. It’s a healing, actually, it’s a real healing…forgiveness.”
– Louis Zamperini
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
– Lewis B. Smedes